July 18, 2005
Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa. -- Twenty-one National Guard soldiers
were injured, and 10 of them required hospital treatment, after
lightning struck a metal canopy at a training range during an
None of the injuries was considered
to be serious, however, Sgt. Richard Sandt, 36, spent Sunday night
at Hershey Medical Center after being knocked unconscious.
According to Sandt, this was not his
first encounter with a lightning strike. As a 12-year-old-boy, about
23 years ago, Sandt's parents warned him not to sit on the front
porch during a thunderstorm. He didn't listen, and a nearby bolt
of lightning blew him through the screen door of his home, he said.
Sandt was expected to be discharged
sometime Monday, said Pennsylvania Army National Guard spokesman
Lt. Col. Chris Cleaver.
Approximately 100 soldiers, many of
them with a Kutztown-based infantry company, were firing on an M-16
range when the thunderstorm came through around 8:30 p.m., officials
said. Officers stopped the training exercise and the soldiers were
under a metal bleacher pavilion, waiting to board a bus, when lightning
hit shortly before 9 p.m.
Fort Indiantown Gap spokesman Lt. Col.
Chris Cleaver said the bolt hit 100 yards south of where the soldiers
were assembled. The charge hit a nearby building, then arced over
the building and hit the shed where the soldiers were seeking shelter.
''We never saw lightning,'' said Sandt,
a sergeant who works as a truck driver . ''All I know is, I was
talking to someone, and I woke up in an ambulance.''
"There were a couple of those
soldiers that were knocked to the ground, but they remained conscious,''
Ft. Indiantown Gap serves as the headquarters
for the Pennsylvania Department of Military Affairs and the Pennsylvania
National Guard - Army and Air, and is located about 20 miles northeast
Pennsylvania ranks 13th in the nation
in lightning deaths, with a dozen fatalities between 1995 and 2004,
Weather Service figures show.